Boasting 42,400 transistors, 50,500 resistors, 10,500 LEDs, and 272,300 hand-soldered joints, the Megaprocessor is a computer to be reckoned with.
Do you recall one of my columns from around the middle of last year in which I told the tale of one of my techno-dweeb-heroes, James Newman, who was building a half-ton computer out of discrete components (transistors, resistors, LEDs…) in the family room of his bungalow in Cambridge, England (see Bold Brit Builds Bodacious 16-Bit Mega Processor)?
Well, the Megaprocessor is finished and, as you can see in this video, it truly is a thing of beauty and a wonder to behold.
According to the Official Megaprocessor Website, this not-so-little beauty, which cost ~40,000 UK pounds (~50,000 USA dollars), weighs in at around half a ton and boasts 42,400 transistors, 50,500 resistors, 10,500 LEDs, and 272,300 hand-soldered joints. Wow! That's my sort of computer!
I must admit that I was a little surprised to hear that James decided to let his Megaprocessor flee the nest -- it's now residing at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England -- because had I built this beauty, I would never let it out of my sight lest someone run away with it (LOL).
(Source: James Newman)
On the other hand, this new abode will let many more people feast their eyes on the Megaprocessor's magnificence (I know I'll be paying homage to it the next time I'm in Cambridge), so I suppose that's alright. Furthermore, James told me that he's currently pondering his next project, which may feature a mixture of neural networks and cogwheels (this sounds like another creation after my own heart), so I suppose he needs the space.
Can you imagine just how much work was involved in all of this? All I can say is that I doff my metaphorical hat to James. I only dare but hope that one day he will feel the same way about my Bodacious Brain. What say you? Are you as impressed as me?
As someone who grew up in the years when the 6502 & Z80 were dominant in the home computing market, and having to 'only' debug hardware running at a few MHz rather than the GHz of these days, it's great to see someone bringing what some people see as 'magic' down to a level that almost anyone can understand.
Those flashing lights can all be explained as the simple application of logic circuits, doing very mundane things very quickly. Without this kind of creation, most people have no idea what a computer is really doing.
This visual way of seeing how a computer works will hopefully inspire the computer & hardware engineers of the future. For too long this key area of knowledge has been far too difficult to teach or get to grips with.
It's fantastic! Can't wait to see it when next going past Cambridge, with all my kids in tow...
@GoFor: Strongly reminds me of a trip many years ago to IBM in New York. We got to see the then unnamed 360 product line in "bread board" stage. Many large 6 x 5 ft. panels with miles of wire and components...
Strongly reminds me of a trip many years ago to IBM in New York. We got to see the then unnamed 360 product line in "bread board" stage. Many large 6 x 5 ft. panels with miles of wire and components. At least by then they were using mostly ICs.
Saw rudimentary CRT displays with keyboards being used to run diagnostics. All Star Wars level technologies for this want'abe computer nerd long before Star Wars. There was a whole host of technicians and engineers feeding and caring for the beast. Can't imagine a single (key word?) person doing something similar even a the 8080 level.
There is an article in what he is saying, some folks like to build/invent things that serve a purpose in their free time while others prefer to levitate towards art. Why is that and how are they different.
To some extent it can appear that it is a waste of time and resources not to build something useful. There is a lot of unexploited creativity in this world and I often wonder how to better put it to good use. For example, one could spend time on a crowdsourcing platform helping others build something new instead of building "pointless" toys.
The pointless toys are ofc art and it has value even if some might not accept that.